Big first half propels Crandall past LC-M, 24-7

Published 11:24 pm Friday, November 22, 2019

By Ronnie Hughes

The Orange Leader

NACODOCHES – The Little Cypress – Mauriceville Bears rode a wave of momentum into their Class 4A Division I Region III area round of the playoffs after knocking off Stafford last week to advance past the bi-district round for the first time in 22 years.

LC-M would see their stellar season come to an end unfortunately after getting downed, 24-7, by the Crandall Pirates at Dragon Stadium in Nacogdoches Friday night.

The Bears (6-5) would win the coin toss and elected to bring out the offense to open the game. The usual up-tempo offensive attack of the Bears was quickly shutdown by the Pirates (10-2), forcing the Bears to punt early.

Crandall took their first possession of the night near midfield at their own 48. Sophomore running back Damerian Wigenton took the bulk of the carries for the Pirates taking the ball deep into Bear territory. After a would-be interception by the Bears that was called out-of-bounds by the officials, the Pirates would cap the eight-play drive with a score. Quarterback Holt Reese hit Javon Reedy in the back of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown pass. The Pirates led, 7-0, with just over five minutes left in the first quarter of play.

The Bears again would attempt to get their offense going on the ensuing possession. After Bear quarterback Ethan McCollum got a few first downs to get things moving, the offense again would go stale. The Bears turned the ball over on downs giving the Pirates another short field.

The Pirates took the ball at the Bear 46 and went right at the Bear defense. Reese worked the defensive backs with a few dink-and-dunk passes before Sha’brun Booker took a pass out of the backfield and trotted down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown. The Pirates extended their lead to 14-0, with 8:18 left in the second quarter.

LC-M started with a short field themselves on their next possession. After a big time 31-yard catch by Carson Peet that catapulted the Bears inside the Pirate 20, but a bad snap by the center would cause a fumble which the Pirate defense was able to recover.

Following the Bear turnover, Crandall would start at their own 18. Reese again would work over the Bear secondary with quick passes while Wigenton chipped away with an average of five yards a carry. The Pirates took 12 plays and almost six minutes off the clock to notch another score right before the half. Reese again found Reedy in the end zone with six seconds left in the half as Reedy caught a 15-yard pass in the corner of the end zone. Crandall led, 21-0, heading into the half. The Bears offense was held to just three first downs and 70 yards in the first half of play.

The Bears opened the second half of play looking like a different team. The Bear defense quickly shut down the Pirate offense and forced a three-and-out.

LC-M started with a long field ahead of them, starting at their own 18. McCollum and company quickly got the offense moving.  After a quick pass to D.J. Spears and McCollum using his legs to pick up a couple of quick first downs the Bears found themselves in Pirate territory. McCollum ripped off a big 33-yard run that posted the Bears at the Pirate 5 but what looked to be an easy scoring opportunity for the Bears quickly turned ugly. Andy McDow took a hand off from McCollum and would fumble the ball as he fought to get into the endz one. The Pirates took possession at the 7 following the fumble recovery. McCollum finished the night with 124 yards on the ground.

It would again be another big time effort by the LC-M defense. After the momentum deflating fumble the defense would give the Pirate offense fits and force another Pirate punt. The Bears would take over at the Pirate 45.

The LC-M offense would once more drive deep into Pirate territory and see different results than the previous two trips that resulted in lost fumbles. McCollum would find Brendon Pollock to work the Bears into scoring position. McCollum capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown run off the right side. LC-M trailed, 21-7, with 1:31 remaining in the third quarter. Pollock had 64 yards receiving with six catches on the night.

Despite another big Bear defensive stand and the offense moving the ball on their next possession, things were not working in favor of the Bears. The Bear offense was driving and looking to notch their second score of the night with the ball at the Pirate 22. McCollum would cough up the ball on a keeper up the middle which would be the Bears third fumble of the night, all of which were deep in Pirate territory.

The Pirate offense went to work and drove into Bear territory but would be halted just outside the Bear 10. Crandall would settle for a chip shot 25-yard field goal by Brandon Perez which essentially pushed the game just out of reach for the Bears, 24-7, with under eight minutes left in the game.

The Bears fought hard and showed grit, but the clock was working against them. McCollum kept hitting his receivers including a beautiful catch by Pollock down the middle to put the Bears back in Pirate territory. Unfortunately, the Bear season would come to an end with an interception by Sammy Omosigho, in the end zone with under two minutes to play allowing the Pirate offense to run out the clock.

The Bears will pack up a solid season while Crandall will advance to face the roadblock known as Carthage.